Hunter J. Gilbertson, age 91, beloved and loving husband and father, passed away peacefully at home in Northbrook, Illinois, on April 13, 2021. Born August 6, 1929, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Robert Leonard and Margaret (nee Hunter) Gilbertson, Hunter graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, and attended the University of Illinois on a track and field scholarship, earning his bachelor's degree in 1951. Hunter spent much of his youth as a boarding student at St. Benedict's Boys School, a Roman Catholic orphanage in Altoona, Wisconsin, before moving to Illinois, where he lived with his father on the north side of Chicago, and commuted north to attend New Trier. At Illinois, Hunter ran one leg for the mile relay team that won both the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 1951. He served in the U.S. Army during 1952-54, stationed at Camp Chafee, Arkansas, before returning to Chicago, where he founded and led Gilco Scaffolding Company for the next 50 years. Hunter was married on June 30, 1956, in Kearney, Nebraska, to Carol Corinne Erickson (1932-2012), a 1955 graduate of Northwestern University.
Hunter built Gilco Scaffolding into a leading regional competitor in northern Illinois. He developed close relationships with hundreds of Gilco customers, earning their respect as a trusted and reliable business partner. In 2000, the Chicago Tribune published an article on the 'Art of Scaffolding,' describing Hunter Gilbertson as the 'Pablo Picasso' of his industry. In 2004, Hunter passed the baton to his two younger sons, Thomas and Peter, who continue to lead Gilco in the same spirit as their father did. Hunter was an avid sportsman who sought out competition of all kinds. After moving to Northbrook in 1964, Hunter became an energetic volunteer on behalf of youth sports both locally and statewide. In 1984, the Northbrook Park District inducted Hunter into its Hall of Fame, in recognition of his dedication and extensive service to youth ice hockey.
Hunter was descended from Norwegian immigrants to North America. His father Robert L. Gilbertson (1898- 1982) was born the youngest of 10 children in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where Hunter's grandfather Tollef Gulbrandsen (1851-1911) settled after emigrating from Norway in 1867. Hunter is survived by his five children, H. John (Kathryn) Gilbertson Jr., Thomas (Kathryn) Gilbertson, Peter (Janet) Gilbertson, Sara Gilbertson and Bridget (Chris) Russo; 13 grandchildren, Carter, Hunter III, Lacey, Stella, Meredith, Gustavis, Molly, Emma, Oliver, Samuel, Charles, Christopher and Amelia; and 2 great-grandsons, Owen and Eli. Hunter was the third oldest of four siblings, and is preceded in death by his wife Carol, his parents, and each of his three siblings. A private memorial service is being held in Northbrook, Illinois, in May 2021. In memory of Hunter, contributions would be welcome by Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota, sbm.osb.org
Published by Chicago Tribune from May 16 to May 20, 2021.